BOSTON, Massachusetts, April 30, 2001 - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced a report card grade of "B" for the Charles River, the same grade as last year.
The grade, based on water quality data collected last year, represents a leveling off after many years of dramatic improvement in the river's water quality.
Halfway through its 10 year goal of making the Charles River safe for swimming and fishing by Earth Day 2005, EPA New England regional officials said the level grade shows that a renewed commitment and heightened emphasis on stormwater are needed for restoring the river.
"We've made huge strides, but just like a marathon, the final leg will be the hardest in achieving our goal of a fishable/swimmable Charles River by 2005," said Ira Leighton, acting regional administrator at EPA's New England Office.
Leighton said future improvements will depend on individual actions rather than enforcement against large scale violators.
"Over the last five years, we have been highly successful in closing off the pipes and separating the sewer lines responsible for much of the river's pollution," Leighton said. "Now it is time to turn our attention to stormwater runoff and the challenge of getting every homeowner, every car owner, every dog owner and every small business owner to play an individual role in reducing the flow of contaminants into the river."
Robert Zimmerman Jr., executive director of the Charles River Watershed Association (CRWA), echoed Leighton's remarks.
"Our water quality monitoring from last year shows that we're heading into the toughest cleanup stage yet," Zimmerman said. "Stormwater runoff, the biggest polluter of the Charles, is ubiquitous. The good news is that everyone can do something to help clean it up. CRWA will be testing methods this summer that may allow each of us to have a hand in the effort."